Thibodeau: Kemba out of Knicks' rotation, Burks to start at PG
Not only has Kemba Walker been demoted from his role as New York Knicks starting point guard, but the four-time All-Star has been dropped from the rotation altogether "as of right now," head coach Tom Thibodeau announced Monday, according to The Athletic's Fred Katz.
Alec Burks, nominally a shooting guard, will enter the starting lineup in Walker's place. The 30-year-old has put up 10.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game.
Thibodeau cited Walker's incongruous fit with the Knicks' bench players for the demotion in role.
Walker has struggled through the most difficult campaign of his distinguished career. He's started in all 18 of his appearances so far this season, and his per-game averages of 11.7 points, 3.1 assists, and 2.6 rebounds are all career lows.
The Knicks' usual starting five of Walker, Evan Fournier, RJ Barrett, Julius Randle, and Mitchell Robinson is the most-used lineup in the entire NBA this season (287 minutes), but the unit has bled points, being outscored by 15.7 points per 100 possessions.
However, it hasn't been all bad for Walker. The 31-year-old's effective field-goal rate of 53.7% would be a new career high. That can largely be attributed to a 41.3% average from deep on 5.1 attempts per game, including 48.3% on catch-and-shoot looks.
Walker signed a two-year, $17.9-million contract with New York this summer after reaching a buyout agreement with the Oklahoma City Thunder. He gave up $20 million of his $73.7-million guaranteed salary in order to become an unrestricted free agent. The Knicks can't trade him until Dec. 15 at the earliest.